Author Archive

Charlotte Brontë: The Places That Inspired Her

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
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This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth. Known for her novels, Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette, Charlotte is one of the most celebrated English writers to have ever lived and her novels are considered classics of English literature. She’s so celebrated, in fact, that there is a whole area of the country named after her and her sisters: Brontë Country. So we thought what better way to celebrate her legacy than by paying homage to the places that informed and inspired her life and work?

Haworth, Yorkshire

Haworth needs no introduction as a place that inspired Charlotte. This quaint Yorkshire village was the hometown of the Brontë sisters and is now the heart of Brontë Country and a place of pilgrimage for literature lovers. The Brontë family lived here from 1820 until their deaths and you can still visit many of the places frequented by Charlotte and her siblings including the Brontë Parsonage, which was their family home; the Sunday school where her father, Patrick Brontë, taught; the churchyard where most of the family members, including Charlotte, are buried; and the pubs that her brother, Branwell, drank in. If you’re looking to visit Haworth, take a look at our guide to short breaks in Haworth, which includes recommendations of the things Brontë fans can’t afford to miss.

Brontë Waterfall, Yorkshire

The Brontë Waterfall is a small, picturesque waterfall just outside of Stanbury, 2 miles from Haworth itself. The waterfall and surrounding moorland was a popular walking spot for the Brontë sisters and Charlotte described it in a letter as “fine indeed; a perfect torrent racing over the rocks, white and beautiful”.  You can still reach the waterfall today by following the Brontë Trail which begins in Haworth and winds across the moors to the waterfall. If you follow the trail even further, you’ll reach Top Withens, the ruined farmhouse said to have been the inspiration for the Earnshaw family house in Wuthering Heights, the novel written by Charlotte’s sister, Emily.

Hathersage, Derbyshire

Moving away from Brontë Country, Hathersage in the Hope Valley area of the Peak District was another source of inspiration for Charlotte. Charlotte visited Hathersage in 1845 when she stayed with her friend, Ellen Nussey at the vicarage for several weeks; Ellen’s brother was the vicar of Hathersage at the time. Charlotte explored the area at great lengths whilst staying here and it’s thought that her novel, Jane Eyre, which she wrote in 1947 was set here. North Lees Hall, on the outskirts of Hathersage, was owned at the time by a Sir Robert Eyre and many believe that the property was her inspiration for Thornfield Hall. Another property that lays claim to being the real-life Thornfield Hall is Norton Conyers in Ripon. Both properties have their own myths and legends of mad women hidden in their attics hundreds of years ago, which Charlotte may have also known about.

Book a holiday cottage in Brontë Country

If you fancy booking your own trip to Brontë Country to see the places where Charlotte Brontë grew up and the places that inspired her work, you can see a wide range of holiday cottages in Haworth and the surrounding areas on our website. Or alternatively, please give our friendly holiday advisors a call on 01244 356 695 and they’ll be able to help you find the perfect cottage for your Brontë-themed getaway.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Creme Egg Recipes for Easter

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
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If you’re anything like the team here at Sykes Cottages, you’ll have already made your way through dozens of Cadbury Creme Eggs as soon as they hit the shelves after Christmas. They’re one of the best chocolate treats around and no one can resist their gooey goodness. With this in mind, why not surprise your guests this Easter with one of these delicious Creme Egg desserts?  They’re sure to be a hit with young and old alike and will definitely earn you the title of Star Baker.

Creme Egg Millionaire’s Shortbread

Creme Egg Chocolate Caramel Shortbread

Image via Kerrycooks.com

Serves 12. Recipe via kerrycooks.com

Ingredients:

  • 300g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 160g plain flour
  • 397g can of condensed milk
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 200g plain chocolate
  • 3 Creme Eggs

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and get ready a tin that is around 9 inch square.

For the shortbread

  1. Combine 150g butter with 50g golden caster sugar and then mix in 160g flour. Put into tin and work into the corners. Prick with a fork all over and put into the oven for around 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Remove and leave to cool completely before you add the caramel layer.

For the caramel

  1. Combine the condensed milk, 150g sugar and 150g butter in a saucepan over a very low heat. Stir constantly. Once it’s melted, increase the heat to medium but keep stirring constantly.
  2. As the sugar dissolves, your mixture will turn golden and begin to thicken. Heat for 10 minutes until it comes to a gentle boil- only bubbling slightly and keep stirring constantly.
  3. Once its consistency is similar to gravy, remove from heat and pour into a cold bowl to cool down completely.
  4. Once cool, pour onto your shortbread layer.

For the chocolate and creme egg topping

  1. Break chocolate into chunks and heat in microwave for 30 second intervals. Remove and stir every 30 seconds until melted.
  2. Pour over the caramel mixture.
  3. Cut the Creme Eggs in half and arrange on top of the chocolate. Leave in the fridge to cool for at least two hours.

 

Creme Egg Tray Bake

Creme Egg Tray Bake

Image via cadburys.co.uk

Serves 20. Recipe via recipes.cadburys.co.uk

Ingredients:

  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 5 Creme Eggs, smashed up

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 31x20cm shallow tin.
  2. In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each egg.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and 50g cocoa powder and fold in.
  4. Put into the tin, pushing into the corners, then bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool and place on a wire rack.
  5. Sift the icing sugar and 25g cocoa powder into a bowl and add a few tsp water to make a spreadable icing. Spread over the top of the cooked tray bake and top with smashed Creme Egg pieces.

 

Creme Egg Cheesecake

Serves 12. Recipe via goodtoknow.co.uk

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter, melted
  • 2 Creme Eggs, chopped
  • 200g digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 600g full-fat Philadelphia
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300ml double cream, whipped
  • Yellow food colouring
  • 6 mini Creme Eggs to decorate

Method:

  1. Line the base of a 20cm loose bottom cake tin. Melt the butter and Creme Eggs in a pan then stir through the biscuits. Press into the bottom of the cake tin then leave in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, lightly beat the Philadelphia until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and icing sugar until well combined then fold in the whipped cream.
  3. Measure out 300g of the Philadelphia mixture into a separate bowl then stir through the yellow food colouring. Spoon this over the biscuit base then top with the remaining white mixture.
  4. Leave to set in the fridge for at least three hours.
  5. When set, top with mini Creme Eggs to decorate and serve.
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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

St Patrick’s Day Events In 2016

Friday, March 11th, 2016
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St Patrick’s Day is always a big event in the social calendar, not only in Ireland but across Britain as well. Every 17th March, there are parades, events and festivals to get involved in and to make sure you don’t miss out, we’ve picked out some of the best St Patrick’s Day events taking place in 2016 for you to take a look at.

St Patrick’s Festival, Dublin

Ireland’s biggest St Patrick’s Day events take place in Dublin with the city centre turning into a bustling sea of green. Events over the three day period include a parade, street theatre, walking tour, Irish craft beer and whiskey village, as well as ‘Greening the City’, which takes place at 6pm on 17th March and sees some of Dublin’s most iconic buildings ‘go green’.

Date: 17th- 20th March 2016

More information: http://www.stpatricksfestival.ie/

 

Manchester Irish Festival

Manchester Irish Festival is one of the UK’s biggest St Patrick’s Day events, running from 4th- 20th March across Manchester city centre. The St Patrick’s Day Parade will take place this Sunday 13th March but other event highlights include Irish dancing classes, live traditional Irish music, fiddle workshops and the 20th National Irish Studies conference. The festival was established back in 1996 and celebrates Manchester’s Irish community and their talents in arts, music, film and dance.

Date: 4th- 20th March 2016

More information: http://www.manchesteririshfestival.co.uk

 

Galway St Patrick’s Day Parade

The Galway St Patrick’s Day Parade is always a fantastic spectacle. Now in its 113th year, the parade celebrates the diverse nature of the city and the huge amount of talent showcased by local artists and community groups. Highlights this year include Galway Arts Centre, St Patrick’s Brass Band, Salsa Latin Dancers Community Group and Galway Community Circus.

Date: 17th March 2016

Time: Starts at 11am and ends around 1pm

More information: http://www.galwaytourism.ie/event/St-Patricks-Festival-17th-March-2016-n93.html

 

Leprechaun Hunt at Hezlett House, Coleraine

Hezlett House’s Leprechaun Hunt is the perfect fun-filled event for families with young children this St Patrick’s Day. Leprechauns have escaped from the trees in Downhill forest and hidden themselves around the house- the National Trust needs your family’s help to find them all again! Join in with the hunt and uncover the fascinating story behind Hezlett House at this delightful family event.

Date: 17th March 2016

Time: Open from 10am-4pm

More information: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/downhill-demesne-and-hezlett-house/whats-on/leprechaun-hunt

 

St Patrick’s Parade, London

If you’re in London this weekend then make sure you head to Trafalgar Square for the annual St Patrick’s Parade. The parade leaves Piccadilly around midday, making its way through the streets to Trafalgar Square where a festival will be taking place. The parade features music, floats, marching bands and dance schools, and if you get a bit peckish, there’s a food market offering Irish beef stew and other Ireland-inspired dishes from acclaimed Irish chefs.

Date: 13th March 2016

Time: 12pm- 6pm

More information:  http://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/st-patricks-day-parade-and-festival-1

 

Dingle Fife and Drum Band Early Morning Parade

What better way to start off the festivities than with an early morning music march. This is a long-standing tradition in Dingle, where residents wake up to the sounds of the Dingle Fife and Drum Band marching through the streets every St Patrick’s Day morning. They are followed by hundreds of Dingle residents around the town with a 6.30am pit-stop at a church to provide background music for the mass. The parade finishes around 7.30am with the national anthem.

Date: 17th March 2016

Time: 6am-7.30am

More information: http://www.dingle-region.com/stpat.htm

 

If you’re thinking of booking a last-minute break in Ireland over St Patrick’s Day, don’t forget to take a look at our wide range of holiday cottages in Ireland. With over 800 cottages to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect property for your getaway.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Cottages with Literary Connections

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016
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If you didn’t already know, tomorrow is World Book Day, so to celebrate, we’re taking a look through our cottage portfolio and bringing you the best of our holiday cottages with literary connections. From family homes of famous authors to properties that have been featured in novels, here’s our pick of Sykes Cottages’ top literary holiday homes.

Penlan (ref 6909), Snowdonia National Park

Penlan is a charming woodland cottage in the picturesque Snowdonia village of Beddgelert, famed for its historical monument to Gelert, the faithful dog of a medieval prince. According to the legend, the prince killed his dog thinking it had attacked his son, only to later discover that the dog had actually been defending his son from a violent wolf attack. The cottage itself is charismatic and traditional with exposed wooden beams and a lovely pub just 5 minutes’ walk away. It’s also affectionately known as ‘Rupert Bear’s Cottage’ in memory of Albert Bestall, the author and illustrator of the Rupert Bear stories. He lived in the cottage from 1956 to 1986 and gained inspiration from the surrounding countryside, writing his Rupert Bear stories here for many years.

Stable Cottage (ref 14117), Shropshire

This attractive stone-built cottage is situated in the rural hamlet of Cwm Head in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Perfect for a romantic getaway, Stable Cottage offers cute and cosy accommodation for two people. Children’s author, Malcom Saville, who wrote the well-known Lone Pine series, sent his family to this delightful cottage during World War Two. He was inspired to write his Lone Pine series, which were set in Shropshire, using the peaceful local countryside as his backdrop. This part of Shropshire is particularly beautiful so it’s not hard to see why he felt inspired, with lots of hill-walking and wildlife on your doorstep.

The Retreat (ref 1678), Cornwall

The Retreat is a cosy, stone-built cottage adjoining a mill house in the heart of the Cornish countryside. The tranquil village of St Keyne, where this cottage is nestled, and the surrounding areas are renowned for their rolling meadows and wooded valleys, perfect for a getaway away from the hustle and bustle of the Cornish coast yet still within easy reach. The Retreat offers open plan living for two people with its own private patio and BBQ. Pets are also allowed at this property so there’s no need to put your furry friends in the kennels! This historic cottage featured in the Daphne Du Maurier novel, The King’s General, which was published in 1946.

Church View (ref 915793), Yorkshire

Haworth needs no introduction as a literary break and this luxury self-catering apartment in the heart of Haworth is the perfect place to stay. It’s situated within a stunning period property on Haworth’s Main Street, which would have existed during the Brontë’s lifetime. Church View is less than a minute’s walk from the famous Black Bull pub where Branwell Brontë used to drink and 2 minutes’ walk from the Brontë Parsonage where the family lived. The bedrooms afford views of Haworth’s church where they are all, except Anne, buried.

Or alternatively, if you’re feeling inspired by World Book Day, why not take a look at some of the best literary destinations in the UK; wander around the Lakeland fells that inspired Wordsworth or roam through the wild moorland featured in Charlotte Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Sykes Cottages included in ‘1000 Companies To Inspire Britain’

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016
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Here at Sykes Cottages, we’re  absolutely thrilled to announce that for the second year running, we’ve been included in the prestigious ‘1000 Companies To Inspire Britain’ report by the London Stock Exchange Group. It’s an acknowledgement that we’re honoured to receive and we’re proud as punch to be able to tell you all today!

‘1000 Companies To Inspire Britain’ report

This annual report by the London Stock Exchange Group aims to identify and celebrate the UK’s fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium-sized businesses. To be named in the report, companies must have shown consistently growing revenues over the last four years, as well as also outperforming peers in their sectors, so you can see why we consider it a fantastic achievement to have been included! You can find more information about the report here: www.1000companies.com.

London Stock Exchange Group

Image via lseg.com

Xavier Rolet, who is the Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange Group said of the report: “We wanted to shine a light on what we knew to be true: that these companies are the engine of the UK economy. Their effect too is to create, in the words of economist Nicolas Naseem Taleb, author of The Black Swan, an ‘anti-fragile’ SME economy: more robust, more flexible and less prone to boom and bust.”

The report has also had much political backing with the Rt. Hon. George Osborne MP congratulating the companies included: “This year’s list of ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain is truly remarkable. The businesses and entrepreneurs in the report are a fantastic illustration of the UK’s pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit and our nation’s capacity to produce world-class innovation.”

A fantastic year for Sykes Cottages

Here at Sykes, we have had a brilliant twelve months. We won ‘Best Large Self Catering Holiday Booking Company‘ at the British Travel Awards in November 2015 for the third year in a row; we’re achieving record levels of bookings and we’re adding new properties to our portfolio every day. Currently, the count stands at over 6,300 holiday lets across the UK and Ireland and we’re working hard to ensure that we add as many quality new cottages as possible for our customers. We’re always working to improve our services and 2016 is set to be a very exciting year here at Sykes Cottages.

However, what’s really important to remember is that we couldn’t have achieved all we have without the support of our customers, our fantastic owners and the incredible staff we have here at Sykes. So on behalf of Sykes Cottages, we’d just like to say thank you and we hope you continue to support us in 2016.

Sykes Cottages Staff

Sykes Cottages Staff

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.